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Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

Whooping cough was on the way out but it’s rearing its ugly head again with coughing symptoms that literally take your breath away.

What is Whooping Cough?

Whooping cough is a contagious bacterial infection that can cause severe coughing spasms.  It’s very dangerous in babies but is also disabling in adults. The responsible agent is Bordetella Pertussis. 

How do I catch it?

The bacteria is passed person to person by inhalation.  Vaccination gives protection but the effects of the vaccine wear off with time.  Unvaccinated carriers create a pool of infection within a community.

What are the symptoms?

The first stage is similar to the common cold with a runny nose and often lasts 1 -2 weeks. The next stage is weeks of severe coughing fits.  The intensity of the cough can literally take your breath away with an inability to breathe for some seconds. The cough can provoke vomiting. Unfortunately the ‘100 day cough’ is exactly that.  Symptoms can drag on for months.

Medical professional using stethoscope on woman's back

Can I be tested?

Your doctor can do a blood test which can confirm the diagnosis but treatment can start straight away whilst the results are awaited.

What’s the treatment?

Antibiotics are given if you see doctor in the early phase of the illness. This will also help reduce your chance of passing on the infection.  Later on, antibiotics do not alter the course of the illness, and the focus is on symptom control with different medicines given depending on the severity of the symptoms. 


The New Victoria Hospital
184 Coombe Lane West
Kingston Upon Thames
Surrey KT2 7EG